National news networks don't have a good handle on local events and, at best, rely on 2nd or 3rd hand reports.
I didn't see any hype on our local news, and the local emergency alert systems weren't activated. However, if San Francisco Bay had seen the 6-8 foot surges that Santa Cruz saw, and if they continued up river, I have no doubt that we'd have experienced some damage. There's no way our boat dock could have sustained an 8 foot surge, although it was rebuilt to a much higher spec than the original, and our boat would have broken away, probably taking out several neighbor's boats and docks.
Timing is everything and, if the surge occurred at high tide and came up river, we'd have experienced some serious damage in the house. This would also have been a good test for our 100-year levee, although I suspect that a number of levees between us and San Francisco would have gone first.
We saw no need to panic, but kept monitoring what was happening at the coast. One of the local TV channels had their helicopter providing live video all morning. With a surge of less than a foot through the Golden Gate, we knew we'd be just fine.
What the west coast saw is obviously nothing compared with events in Japan, the full extent of which are not yet known. But, if you're the one guy who's life was lost ....